By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,251)
“The arrogance of this developer is stunning. Give us the B-6 zone first. Trust us to act in the public interest. Anybody here willing to agree to that? The Planning Board did. The developer is asking the City Council to trust them,” were the opening remarks of a sarcastic Ned Chester at a pep rally late this afternoon on behalf of the SoulsofPortland. “I’m supposed to supply the red meat for this rally.” And he did that Whether or not it was truthful was irrelevant. It was red meat for those ready for another food fight on the Hill. In an ironic twist, no questions were permitted for the speakers.
That from a group who has demonized the developer for a lack of transparency. Everyone could only “trust” the veracity of the accusations made by Chester, Anne Rand and Nini McManamy,also anti-growth activists on the agenda. The last two have long been opposed to progress on the Hill. “Trust us,” said the Souls. The Souls lack of creditability doesn’t end there –it’s a work-in-progress.
The Souls, an ad hoc group dedicated to trying to prevent the development of the Portland Company Complex, held a rally late this afternoon intended to motivate like souls to attend an upcoming City Council workshop on Monday, March 30th at 5:30 pm. No testimony will be taken, but a large presence is hoped for anyway. All dressed alike in red. However, there will be no free beer at the workshop as there was at the pep rally. That could discourage some from showing up!
The views along Fore Street are the center of contention for the Souls. The activists want the measurement of the buildings to be from the flood plain whereas the developer, CPB2, wants the measurements from the average grade. Some views will be partially blocked and real estate values of some may be diminished as well by this. To justify his position, attorney Chester has concocted a false precedent to justify the Soul’s position. It didn’t pass muster with the planning board. And it won’t fly with the city council either.
Despite concessions by the developer, Chester continued to ignore them. He proceeded with scare tactics designed to turn the community against CPB2 if not city officials. He painted a picture of a gated community with no public access, with pubs lined up along Fore Street and a developer who has not allowed anyone to see his vision for the future of his property. Anyone interested in learning the truth knows that none of the above is valid. CPB2 has issued numerous invitations to the public to see details of the vision at their local office for example. Chester even went so far as to conjure up images of CPB2, looking for cash, and selling the permitted property to investors from Hong Kong or Leningrad! More red meat for the food fighters.
CPB2 agrees with many of the points that the Souls are advocating. For example, it agrees with “enhancing public events, public access…and enhancing the Trail along the water’s edge.
“What we do not agree with, however, is the continued and intentional practice by the few leaders of SOP to ignore CPB2’s design principles, distribute misinformation about the developers and the zoning application and spread fear amongst the community in an effort to garner additional support for SOP,” wrote Jim Brady, manager of CPB2, in an email.
Attorney Barbara Vestals and Nini McManamy were the organizers in the effort to prevent the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad from running on the same property in the 1990s.